University Application Overview, 2021


Summertime and the livin’ is easy. With a little advance planning, and a bit of work while you have spare time, fall can be easy too. The following overview is meant to highlight some key dates to plug into your personal schedule.


Two steps. That’s a defining characteristic of the Canadian university application process.

The first step requires students to submit bio-demographic information (e.g. name, address, school attended, etc.) and to identify preferred universities and/or programs. Then, once universities are notified of a student’s interest, these may invite applicants to provide supplemental information (e.g. personal statements, interviews, etc.). This second step is commonly required by highly selective programs, but is increasingly being requested for general admission purposes. During our meetings students are advised of supplemental requirements. Universities also notify applicants.

As shown in the diagram below, the application deadline for most Canadian universities is in January. To enter the university application queue early, and to have ample time to ensure documentation is submitted, we encourage students to complete the first step of the application by mid-November at latest. Personal statements and interviews are generally not required until early in 2021.


Applicants to American universities have multiple deadlines from which to choose. Your application timeline may vary by university. Different from applications to universities north of the 49th Parallel, all application material, including essays and test results, must be submitted at the time of application.

Students have a choice of application plans: Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), and Regular Decision (RD). Early Decision deadlines are generally in November. Students choosing to apply ED receive a response from universities sooner than those applying later. ED applicants are notified by mid-December. Some universities have a second Early Decision deadline, known as ED II. The deadline is often the same as for Regular Decision applications. Decisions for ED II applications are released at the same time as for regular applications, generally in March or April. ED decisions are binding. Students choosing an ED plan must be certain it’s the right choice.

Early Action (EA) is another type of application plan. The deadlines for this plan tend to be in either November or December. Similar to ED applicants, students choosing to apply EA receive an admission decision sooner. The difference is that EA acceptances are not binding.

Students may also choose to apply Regular Decision (RD). Deadlines for this application plan may be as early as January 1. Admission decisions for students applying under this plan are generally announced from mid-March to early April.


Applications to British universities are generally made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The deadline to apply depends on which universities and/or programs are on your list, the earliest being October 15, though most courses/programs have a January deadline. In general, there are four key steps for completing the UCAS application:

  • Register your bio-demographic and educational details
  • Identify preferred programs/courses and note the unique UCAS code
  • Choose preferred universities and make note of their unique UCAS codes
  • Complete the application form and submit. One application form is used to apply for up to five different choices. It’s up to you whether you apply to five different programs/courses or five different courses at the same university

The personal statement is a central part of the UCAS application and it’s forwarded to each university to which you apply. Rather than telling about personal qualities and/or values, use the statement to show your enthusiasm for your preferred area of study.

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